We’re excited to welcome Samantha Barkley from A Mom Around Town to the blog today!
Recently, I saw a video of a friend’s little boy (just a few months older than my own) doing emotion flash cards. They were talking about different emotions and what they look like. My first thought was “aw, that’s sweet”…but it was immediately followed by “OH CRAP, am I supposed to be doing this?” And my mind raced with, “Is my son going to be behind, is he ever going to learn how to control his tantrums, will he be a nice person, am I screwing this up??”
And down the rabbit hole I went. This wasn’t the first, or the last rabbit hole I found myself in. Right out of the gate, there were questions about nursing vs formula, the perils of sleep training and introducing solids – the worries and insecurities about doing these basics right, evolved into a real anxiety about how I could ever manage to teach my son how to be a decent human being.
All around me I saw examples of what I SHOULD be doing. The expert books, social media, other moms at daycare – everyone had opinions about how to be a good mom. I constantly felt like I had to live up to this unattainable perfection. If didn’t discipline just right or I let him watch too much tv, he would clearly drop out of school and live on my couch for the rest of his life, yelling at me to bring him snacks!
I know, I got a little dramatic as I spun down the rabbit hole.
But somewhere along the line, someone shared this simple wisdom with me:
Everyday you are his teacher, just as you are.
Our kids don’t need fancy flashcards or the right timeout chair, or anything else…they just need us. They need to see how we treat people who are less fortunate than us. They need to see how we handle failure. They need to see how we speak with respect, even when we don’t agree.
These are the moments in which they learn empathy, compassion and how to manage stress. But the truly hard part in parenting, is that this is also where they learn to complain, to eat their feelings and to hold a grudge – because they see the good AND the bad. This is where parenting demands so much more of us.
Spiralling back down again? I was there as well, but this time is different, because I know what to do. All the other worries and insecurities stemmed from not knowing which expert (or opinionated friend) to listen to. This one was about me being my best self. I started using The Happiness Guide to focus on one little thing every morning to help me foster joy, be more patient and reduce my stress. And as I became more confident in myself, I saw the difference in how I interacted with my son. Of course it isn’t always perfect, and sometimes I have to apologize for yelling and ask for forgiveness (and what a great lesson that is!) Even these “bad mom” moments are the best opportunities to teach humility and perseverance.
So right now, as you are, you are the perfect mom for your little ones, and what they actually need is your goofy, imperfect self, just being you. In your tough moments, they just need to see you get back up and keep chugging.
(And if you want a little help in the joy, patience and stress management department, The Happiness Guide is a free resource that you can start using now!)